WW raises questions about HD-36 candidate Jennifer Williamson

John Calhoun

Given the choice we have between a lobbyist whose expertise is public affairs and a physician whose expertise is healthcare, I hope my neighbors will select the person of substance who has not tried to mislead them.

As the Willamette Week article, “House Candidate Fears Being Labeled a “Lobbyist – Even Though She is One”, states, she sent out a mailer saying, "Insurance companies are ready to spend a fortune to smear Jennifer Williamson as a ‘lobbyist’" even though there was no evidence to say that would happen, let alone was happening. The result was that she smeared her opponent, by claiming she was the one who would be smeared.

The article goes on to say that in her mailer, Williamson made a distinction calling herself "a lobbyist for public interest causes." It then points out that all her clients are not public interest causes and mentions PacifiCorp.

However, she also seems to have cleaned up her bio. I swear that when I first heard that she was a candidate and I wanted to learn about her, that her Linked-In profile said that she spent time as a public affairs specialist at Intel. It made an impression on me, because I spent 19 years there. Nothing wrong with that, but why did she now erase that corporate part of her history? Let’s face it, private corporations help pay the bills, but most Salem lobbying firms do a mix of corporate and non-profit accounts and Jennifer is no different. And why is her largest donation, $15,000, from Phil Knight -- someone not known for pushing public interest issues?

The last point in the article is that she claimed primary credit for a 2007 budget that grew education funding. While success has many fathers, former Sen. Vicki Walker (D-Eugene), who chaired the Senate Education and General Government Committee in 2007 says Williamson’s impact was not significant. Even Jennifer now admits that she overstated her influence.

This is not the only issue her mailings have overstated. In another one she places a statement regarding health care saying, “She is the only candidate in this race who will fight for a publicly-funded plan from Day One.” She never clarifies what is meant by “publicly-funded”, but the implication is that her opponent, Sharon Meieran, is not in favor of universal or single payer healthcare plans, which is not true. Of course "publicly-funded" could also mean Medicaid. What we are not told is what the specifics of her plan for getting all Oregonians insured in a cost effective way are. You can read Sharon's views here.

Now I live in HD36 so I get all the mailings and phone surveys. In 2000 I actually ran for this seat which Mary Nolan won in a tight 4-way race. I was encouraged by many people to run again.

After getting to know Sharon Meieran, I concluded that she would be a great addition to the legislature. She has expertise in both the legal profession (intellectual property rights) and medical care. While Jennifer talks about how important healthcare is Sharon has lived the issue on a daily basis, led the state professional organization for her specialty, and developed a working relationship with Governor Kitzhaber on this issue who, as a result, has endorsed her.

Sharon has a depth of understanding and substance on health care that few legislators have and certainly much more than Jennifer Williamson. Given the choice we have between a lobbyist whose expertise is public affairs and a physician whose expertise is healthcare, I hope my neighbors will select the person of substance who has not tried to mislead them.

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      Dr. Metz, you are obviously new to this site or you would know that I am a believer in single payer as the best solution and do not need to be educated on its advantages, but put a higher priority on getting universal health care any way possible for both personal and societal reasons. Sharon and I share that view. At this point in time we have a plan on the table that Kitzhaber and the Democratic legislative team are leading and Sharon will support. Heading off in another direction and throwing away the work of the past two years is not helpful.

      Once that is done we can join together and pursue single payer. If the Supreme Court kills Obamacare we will be on the same side of the issue, as will Sharon.

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        My post was inappropriately strident and did not accord proper respect for the dedication you and Sharon give to health care reform. I apologize to both of you. Future comments will be edited before posting.

        I firmly believe our health care system will continue to devastate Oregon's families, businesses, and government until we achieve single payer health care. Our private insurance model has never produced cost-effective universal care and we cannot afford a delay of decades confirming its failure. No patient in a single payer system here or abroad has endured medical bankruptcy or loss of life or limb from inadequate access to health care. Oregon has enough legislators believing single payer must wait until we fix everything else. Given a choice between a candidate who will immediately dedicate herself to single payer and a candidate who will not, my vote goes to the one who will.

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          Thanks for you initial comments. I deeply appreciate it. We can agree to disagree on how we work to get to our preferred end.

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      I totally agree with your comments as a mom of both adopted and biologic kids, and with a former commenter about both women being able and personable. However, as a physician on the front lines, I have to tell you, seeing it in your face day in and day out, fighting the battle shift after shift for your patients who can't afford care, or medications, or even things like housing and transportation, there is nothing like being there to know and understand the multiple ways the system is broken and understand the complexity of the problem. I also have to differ about Jennifer Williamson being the only one in the race with proven leadership ability. I have served on the executive Board of the Metropolitan Medical Society with Sharon and can testify that she deiniftely HAS the leadership ability. Finally, Sharon indeed has the connections and relationships around the state to excel at this job, as her endorsement by Gov. Kitzhaber shows. She has my vote!

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    I'm pretty sure we've never had ten straight comments get the bright-blue "you really like me!" treatment. And this is actually 13 in a row.

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      It's the result of campaigns asking supporters to come to the site who have never been here before, are uncomfortable posting, but want to support their candidate. The question is whether they will come back in the future?

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        The campaign didn't ask me, at all, to make a comment. I'm happy to do it without any prompting.

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          Yes, but you are a regular and you comment. All the likes without comments are from newbies.

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            If you click on these folks, you'll find that just isn't true. Carla? Roey? And so forth? Not so much.

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              For the record, I was not asked by Jennifer Williamson (or anyone else) to comment on this thread. I also clicked "like" on some of the comments on this thread, and nobody asked me to do that either.

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              KT, John said "All the likes without comments are from newbies." Not comments.

              And FWIW, there's no way to actually determine that. We don't have a publicly available list of who liked which post.

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